18K Hogpen Hill Climb
Unicoi State Park, Ga., January 11

When the words “hill” and “climb” are included in the name, you know it’s going to be a doozy of a race. This annual 18K takes place in the rolling hills of northeastern Georgia near Unicoi State Park. The first couple of miles are easy breezy downhill, but don’t let that fool you. The climb starts gradually at first before sharply increasing gradient in the last six miles for an overall elevation gain of 2,500 feet. Veteran hogs cite this race as one of the toughest road runs in Georgia but also one of the most accommodating. Digital timing, baggage check-in so you can have warm clothes at the finish, and organized shuttle buses for spectators make this a must-do for anyone trying to get an early start on those New Year’s resolutions. runthehogpen.org

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon
Roanoke, Va., April 26

When the Blue Ridge Marathon began in 2010, the course covered just 6,140 feet of elevation change. Now in its fourth year, this 26.2-miler covers a total of 7,430 feet of elevation change, thus justifying its title as America’s Toughest Road Marathon. The course follows some of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but racers will also find themselves weaving through Mill Mountain, Peakwood, and up to Roanoke Mountain. If this stout marathon is too big of a bite, try the half or new 10K route. blueridgemarathon.com

Bearwallow Beast 5K
Gerton, N.C., May 4

It was only a few years ago when Bearwallow Mountain was in danger of being lost to development and the prospect of public access, let alone a public trail system, seemed like a far-fetched dream. But with the conservation efforts of Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and the Barnwell family, Bearwallow Mountain and the 165 acres surrounding its grassy knob are entirely protected and open to the public. This 5K celebrates that achievement and embraces hard work and persistence. The course is defined by a beast of a climb – over 1,400 feet – to the summit and incorporates asphalt, forest service roads, and singletrack. bearwallowbeast.com

Hatfield-McCoy Marathon and Half
Williamson, W.Va., June 14

A race named after a legendary 19th century family feud is sure to make for an interesting event. The Hatfields and the McCoys were two families who lived along the Big Sandy River near the border of Kentucky and West Virginia. Their relationship was fraught with violence, murder, revenge, and even intermarriage, resulting in a complex mess of family loyalties and social allies. Although seven of the Hatfields would eventually be sentenced to life in prison and another Hatfield sentenced to death, the family feud would continue for generations. To race in either the marathon or half, you’ll have to take a side. Since the event’s debut in 2000, the Hatfields are up 8 to 6. Choose wisely.  hatfieldmccoymarathon.com

Blue Ridge Relay
Virginia / North Carolina, September 5-6

27,000 feet of elevation change. 208 miles. 36 legs. 4-12 team members. 12 hours. 2 vans. And you’re off. The Blue Ridge Relay is truly a one-of-a-kind race, starting at Grayson Highlands State Park near the base of Virginia’s highest peak, Mount Rogers, and winding its way toward Asheville, N.C. From the New River to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, and Mount Mitchell, if you’re looking for a team building experience that will push your limits while highlighting some of the region’s most iconic attractions, the Blue Ridge Relay will be right up your alley. blueridgerelay.com

Best of the Rest

Oskar Blues 4 Miler
Brevard, N.C., March 15 • pisgahrunning.com

Cooper River Bridge Run 10K
Charleston, S.C., April 5 • bridgerun.com

Charlottesville Marathon
Charlottesville, Va., April 5. • charlottesvillemarathon.com

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler
Washington, D.C., April 6 • cherryblossom.org

Charlotte RaceFest Half Marathon
Charlotte, N.C., April 12 • charlotteracefest.com

Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon
Chesapeake, Va., April 12 • dismalswampstomp.com

The Bear 5-Mile Run
Linville, N.C., July • hopeformarrow.org

Peachtree Road Race 10K
Atlanta, Ga., July 4 • peachtreeroadrace.org

Parkersburg News & Sentinel Half Marathon
Parkersburg, W.Va., August • halfmarathons.net

Asheville City Marathon & Half Marathon
Asheville, N.C., September 27 • blogs2.citizen-times.com

Tucker Foundation Run For It 5K
Davis, W.Va., September 28 • tuckerfoundation.net

The Genworth Virginia 10 Miler
Lynchburg, Va., September 28 • virginiatenmiler.com

Race 13.1
Winston-Salem, N.C., October 12 • race131.com/races/winston-salem

Greensboro 5K, 13.1M, 26.2
Greensboro, N.C., October 18 • greensboromarathon.com

Baltimore Marathon
Baltimore, Md., October 18 • thebaltimoremarathon.com

Anthem Richmond Marathon
Richmond, Va., November 15 • richmondmarathon.com

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